Monday, January 21, 2008

Shedding Light on Lampposts

In the streets all around my house at the moment the local council are busy replacing all the lampposts, presumably with more environmentally-friendly versions.

For a visually impaired person (VIP), the humble lamppost is a double-edged sword, though thankfully not as sharp. On the one hand, it not only provides the sort of additional light that VIPs usually crave, but certain posts provide useful reference points without which finding the way back home can prove that bit more difficult. My last two houses have had lampposts right outside them and while my wife would complain that, in one case, it was too bright to get to sleep at night, I was grateful for its bright glow – my own night star, guiding me back to a safe landing after a night out on the town. Without it, I probably would have ended up being branded a nuisance neighbour “Sorry officer, I know it’s not a pleasant way to water the plants, but I couldn’t get my key in the door. What do you mean it’s not my door?”

On the other hand, I have had several ‘tête-à-tête’s’ with lampposts over the years and I can only hope that they that they that they have not done any permanent damage. This is because, despite the added light they provide at night, they nevertheless also provide a bloody hard obstacle that, from my experience, doesn’t have much’ give’. The forehead normally takes the brunt of the impact, but seems to transfer the shock immediately to the lower jaw, leaving you feeling like you’ve just taken an uppercut from Mike Tyson. For this reason, I tend to avoid walking with my tongue hanging out. It must be tough for visually-impaired dogs, now that I think about it.

One other tip for fellow VIPs is to always carry a polystyrene pizza box (12 inches, preferably). Rushing home one night with my deep-pan pepperoni I remember vividly the crunch of the box as I ploughed into the lamppost. Unlike the pizza-box, I emerged unscathed. Knowing how much I like pepperoni pizza, it’s a fair bet that my tongue was hanging out too! That’s what I call a close shave.

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